Ten True Things: Keys to Authenticity

By Jeanne Fiorini
Part One of Three

My daughter thinks it’s funny when I notice (and then think it’s worth commenting on) such things as four red cars in a row passing us on the highway.  “Hmm…” I’ll mutter, “Look at that, four red cars … I wonder what that means?”  Invariably she’ll roll her eyes and proclaim loudly, “It means nothing!”

OK, my personality has a proclivity for seeking out how things are connected and for seeking answers to the questions “what does it mean?” and “what is true?”  Training in psychosynthesis added fuel to the fire by reinforcing the idea that there is often a “story behind the story,” and that layers of meaning intersect and overlap.  The choosing of a profession which uses the symbols of the Tarot to facilitate conversations about life has put to full throttle this search for patterns of significant meaning.

Fourteen years of sitting with clients has offered a wonderful opportunity to examine the questions of meaning and interconnection on a daily basis.  And yes, clear themes have emerged over the course of time.  This article explores what I like to call the Keys to Authenticity, and it is the first in a series of three which are dedicated to ten simple truths that have appeared consistently in the life stories which I’ve been privileged to witness.  If at 50-something years of age I have wisdom, it is not because I am wise, but because I’m paying attention. 

Keys to Authenticity

We hear a lot of talk about authenticity these days.  Many popular books on the subject are available.  Dr. Phil and Oprah are always giving us hints how to go about “being true to ourselves.”  The message is out there, and yet I wish I had a dollar for every person who utilizes eighty different ways to talk themselves out of their own truth.  Just one dollar for every comment such as, “If I tell him what I really want from our relationship, he’ll leave,” or “I don’t really like working for this corporation, but what else is there to do?” or “I’m bored with my life.”  

It’s both the function of our society and its biggest crime that we don’t teach people how to be individuals.  We learn very early that whatever uniqueness we exhibit had better be useful to the group, or it is likely to get squashed.  People have trouble living authentically because they don’t know who they really are, and they don’t know who they really are because they don’t know what they value, and they don’t know what they value because somewhere along the line it has been denied, degraded, and then forgotten. 

Therefore, the first Key to Authenticity is: It is Important to Know What You Want.  Recognize, admit, accept, and honor what is of value to you as an individual.  We can’t get what we truly need and want when we don’t know what it is, or when it is something that someone else wants for us.  This can be more difficult than it sounds; acknowledging what is in our heart of hearts is the first step towards living an authentic life. 

The second Key to Authenticity is: Follow the Love.  We all know the difference between being energized by a situation or person, or being drained by that interaction.  Or the feeling of doing something joyfully and willingly, versus the feeling of doing it simply because it’s “supposed” to be done.  Certainly we all need to do some things that we’re supposed to do, like take out the garbage or pay the electric bill or eat nutritious foods.  But heaven help us if we allow “I’m supposed to…” to make the bigger decisions in our lives:  “I’m supposed to be married to you,” “I’m supposed to be a doctor,” “I’m supposed to have children,” “I’m supposed to make $100,000 a year…”  

Joseph Campbell used the term “follow your bliss,” and many people mistook it for selfishness.  It is not selfish to honor and protect oneself, and by that definition, living authentically requires that we pay attention to how our personal energy is spent, and to how we connect with others.  Follow the Love means that we recognize the people, places, and things that feed and nurture us, and distinguish these from others that might sap our energy.  We learn to look for the seed of truth in the things that make us feel good.  What a concept!  

That’s the inner version of Follow the Love, but this Key has an outer component, as well.   We often try to convince other people of our truth, justify our choices to them, or look to them for affirmation as their stamp of approval.  We often don’t receive it.  Remember: for all the people who might criticize our choices along the path of authenticity, there are an equal (and perhaps greater) number who would offer encouragement and support.  Which voices are you listening to?  Follow the Love.

The third Key to Authenticity is a statement that people who know me have heard said before: Don’t Worry About the Initials.  Having my PhD, MSW, or MBA doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve “made it,” and certainly doesn’t insure that I’m being more authentic in my life than the next person.  I’m not saying that to have initials is bad, I’m just saying that if we’re going to be true to our individual callings, we can’t get hung up on all those letters.  They don’t guarantee anything, and the quest for them has led many a person into an unsatisfying career.  Attain them for the right reasons, or don’t bother with them at all.  

These Keys to Authenticity are principles which appear consistently over time, whose implementation has brought tangible and sustainable results in the lives of clients and friends.  Sometimes I think of my work as a Tarot reader as one giant science experiment:  1. Look at the data and analyze the situation.  2. Present a hypothesis.  3. Observe the outcome of that hypothesis as it plays out in physical reality.  I often tell clients that, while I have confidence in what we’re seeing and discussing on any given day, the proof is in the pudding, i.e. how do things change in your “real life” after the reading? 

 And so I present these Keys to Authenticity in the spirit of the Queen of Swords: These are truths as I’ve observed them; you are encouraged to test these ideas and see what changes might result in your own life.  (Hence, this Queen’s outstretched hand: “Come on, try and see things my way…”) 

This article is brought to you by Jeanne Fiorini, NFI.  (“No Freakin’ Initials”)

© 2008 Jeanne Fiorini

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008
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